Home Health Quality Ratings Fall, Patients Don’t Mind

The quality of patient care provided by the nation’s home health agencies has waned slightly in recent months, though the shift went largely unnoticed by home health patients, according to recently published data.

Specifically, the number of home health agencies nationwide that earned a 4.5 patient care star rating fell 1% since CMS last reported such data in October 2016, while the number of home health agencies that earned a 2.5 patient care star rating increased 1%, according to an analysis of Home Health Compare data from Northampton, Massachusetts-based consultancy firm Fazzi Associates.

Meanwhile, all national averages for the Home Health Care Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey (HHCAHPS) star ratings—which reflect home health patient experience—remained the same as last quarter.

CMS generally updates data on a quarterly basis—January, April, July and October.  

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) updated Home Health Compare results on Jan. 26. The data for Quality of Patient Care measures was gathered between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016, while the data for the HHCAHPS measures was gathered between July 2015 and June 2016.

Almost all national averages for the Quality of Patient Care measures demonstrated improvement this quarter, except multifactor fall risk assessment conducted, which remained the same, Fazzi noted. Measures with the most significant improvement included diabetic foot care and patient education implemented, as well as improvement in ambulation.

All quality measures included under Value-Based Purchasing also demonstrated improvement, except acute care hospitalizations, which were at 16% between January 2016 and July 2016 before worsening to 16.3%. The collection period for this data set occurred between April 1, 2015 and March 31, 2016.

Per the final 2017 Medicare Home Health Prospective Payment System (HH PPS) rule, six measures were removed from Home Health Compare public reporting this quarter: pain interventions implemented, pain assessment conducted, pressure ulcer prevention included in the plan of care, pressure ulcer risk conducted, pressure ulcer prevention implemented and heart failure symptoms addressed.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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